Last week, PRWeek reported that British-based pro-democracy group Friends of Maldives had called on the PR industry to shun a tender to support a tourism drive by the Maldives government, after claims that President Mohamed Nasheed was removed from office by force in a coup d'etat in February.
However, the brief thought to be worth around £93,000 per month has now been handed to Ruder Finn.
David Hardingham, head of Friends of Maldives, called the developments 'extremely saddening'. He added: 'Clearly our hope was that no responsible PR firm would shake hands with a dictatorship that toppled a democratically elected leader at gunpoint.
'We can only ask ourselves: is a company with offices in seven countries and a long list of respectable clients really so desperate for the money? Because this kind of work does nothing for its reputation.'
He urged Ruder Finn to 'tear up the contract, and think twice in the future about with whom it does business.'
Ruder Finn senior vice-president and ethics officer Emmanuel Tchividjian defended the decision to PRWeek: 'We believe Ruder Finn can contribute positively to the people of the Maldives, a country that depends on tourism for the bulk of its economy.'
He added: 'Prior to deciding to pursue the tender, we closely examined the complexity of the current political situation in the country.
'We were encouraged by the desire of the current government, in place according to the country's constitution, to focus on ensuring stability, democracy and transparency in the Maldives, including a free press.'
Tchividjian admitted there were 'diverse points of views' surrounding the circumstances around the change of government, into which a domestic inquiry is taking place.